As Frederick County leaders are finalizing the proposed school budget, I would ask that line items related to technology be responsibly reviewed. A great deal of emphasis has been placed recently on using technology as an instructional method and learning tool, but I would argue that funds spent on technology might be put to better use in curricular areas that improve preparation of our students for college and career.
Jamie Harper, a vice president at Microsoft Corp., listed the top 10 job skills of the future at a conference I attended last year. Oral and written communication skills were at the top of his list. They were closely followed by an ability to work with other people (customer service) and problem solve. Only two of the top 10 skills named by Harper, Microsoft Office use and data entry, related to technology at all.
Colleges admission requirements are beginning to focus less and less on test scores and Advanced Placement courses. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recently wrote, “admissions officers won’t be impressed by more than a few Advanced Placement courses. Poorer high schools aren’t as likely to offer A.P. courses, and a heavy load of them is often cited as a culprit in sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression among students at richer schools.” What colleges will be putting a greater emphasis on are the required essays about a student’s work with family and community.
I would argue to those responsible for budget decisions that funds can be better spent by adding a capital “A” to our STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs. We need to put a strong emphasis on the arts. These types of courses can better help our students to improve their speaking, writing and people skills. These are skills that are readily developed in drama, music and art classes.
What better hands-on opportunities for group work and collaboration than coordinating and executing a marching band halftime performance? A student assigned the project of creating a specific item from a lump of clay needs to be able to problem solve. Music, theater and visual arts programs work together for annual theatrical productions.
If we are indeed preparing our students for college and career, we need to put some STEAM in the preparation.
Lois A. Jarman, candidate, Frederick County Board of Education